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An autistic child's outing on a leash

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Like all children, taking an autistic child to the store can be challenging. Shopping with an autistic child versus a "normal" child sometimes presents unique situations most "normal" children's parents do not have to face. For example, our children may have meltdowns most people only see with toddlers. Our children can have tantrums that make two year olds naptime crying look like child's play. Sometimes our kids run. They even inappropriately touch people, electronics, and anything that looks fascinating to them.

My child runs. Most of the time this is not a problem, but you never know what will trigger it. If you have ever been worried about a toddler getting away from you, you should walk with a tween autistic child who loves running. Most people would say just stop them. They are the ones that need to know autistic children are sometimes deaf. They will tune out the world and live in their own. They also do not see things around them. If you think reasoning with an autistic child is an option, classic autistic children do not understand that concept at all. The best option I have found is a harness and leash. It will keep your child safe, with you, and give them a since of security.

I use a harness not only so my child does not run around the parking lot or run through the store like a maniac, but also so he will not get lost. The harness makes him feel comfortable, secure, and gives him a since of freedom instead of being squished in a grocery cart.

I must admit an older child wearing a harness, "on a leash", seems to be a spectacle for some passer-bys. I prefer my son to be safe and a spectacle than to have him be a spectacle because I have no control over him, or worse, him being gone and me wondering how I could have stopped it.

Today when his grandmother had him and I was walking behind at a store, I finally had enough of the "looks" and then the jeers. I began to wonder if everyone was rude or did not have an education. I overheard two men laughing about "the boy on a harness". The need for education about autism was impressive. I stopped beside them, excused my interruption and let them know "the boy on the harness" happened to be autistic and liked to take off running. They seemed to agree that was a good reason for a leash. My only thought was at least he has a disability as a reason for his actions. I wondered what their excuse was for the way they acted.

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